China and Canada established diplomatic relations on October 13, 1970, and bilateral relations developed smoothly in all fields thereafter.
In May 1989, Wan Li and Rong Yiren, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, visited Canada in succession. Foreign Ministry officials of the two countries consulted on disarmament and politics. The Canadian Embassy in China launched an activity of “Canada-China Friendly Month” in the name of “Enjoy the Future”. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney delivered a televised speech.
After the June 4, 1989 Tian'anmen Square event, the Canadian government took a series of sanctions undermining Sino-Canadian relationship, such as the cessation of official exchanges above ministerial level, stoppage of military exchanges, relaxation of the migration policy and encouragement to Chinese students to remain in Canada. Compared with 1988, the volume of its import from China decreased by 41.92 percent.
In 1990, the Canadian Government decided to end the Special Migration Rules in regard to Chinese students studying there. A special diplomatic envoy was sent to China to participate in the 20th anniversary of Sino-Canadian relationship.
In 1991, Chinese and Canadian foreign ministers met twice in New York and Seoul, exchanging views on bilateral relations and international issues.
In 1993, a breakthrough was made in Sino-Canadian relations. In March, Joe Clark, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, visited China. In May, Zhu Rongji, then vice premier of the Chinese State Council visited Canada. High-level talks resumed and relations returned to normal.
In March 1994, Canada announced it would delink human rights from trade in its China policy. In May, it proposed four principles guiding the Sino-Canadian relationship, that is, “to develop an economic partnership, peace and security, legal system and human rights, environment and development”. The development of an economic partnership was seen as the core of Canada's China policy.
Trade and Economic Exchanges
Trade and economic ties between China and Canada saw rapid progress in 1992. The trade value reached US$2.579 billion. Heads of transport, energy, construction, trade and economic, commerce and system reform institutions of China successively visited Canada; while Canadian officials in charge of development, fisheries and oceans and auditing also visited China.
In 1993, the cooperation between the two countries in trade and economy was strengthened. The total trade value reached US$2.572 billion. Canadian industrial, commercial and enterprise leaders became more interested in economic cooperation with China. By the end of 1993, Canada had invested in 740 programs in China, with a negotiated investment volume of US$750 million.
In 1994, the total trade value between the two countries reached US$3.23 billion, a 25.4-percent increase over the previous year.
In 1995, The bilateral import and export volume hit a record. The total value was US$4.214 billion, an increase of 29.8 percent.
In November 1996, the All-China General Corp. and Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. jointly started Sino-Canadian Zhonghong Life Insurance Co. in Shanghai, the first insurance joint venture in China.
China is the fifth largest trade partner of Canada. The economic and technological cooperation and mutual investment between the two countries continued to be enhanced in 1997.
In April 1994, Canadian Governor-General Ramon John Hnatyshyn paid a state visit to China. The same year, Chinese Vice Premier Zou Jiahua formally visited Canada, pointing out that the Sino-Canadian relationship was facing an unusual development opportunity. He hoped the relationship could be raised to a new level through mutual efforts.
In November 1994, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien led the largest delegation, among which were nine provincial governors and over 350 entrepreneurs, ever to visit China. The two countries signed trade and economic contracts and letters of intent worth US$7 billion. The visit was extremely successful.
In October 1995, Chinese Premier Li Peng paid a formal and good-will visit to Canada, the highest level visit by a Chinese official in ten years.
In April 1996, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee Qiao Shi paid a formal and good-will visit to Canada, meeting Canadian Governor-General Romeo Leblanc, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Speaker of the Senate Gildas Molgat and Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, for a wide range of exchange of views on international and regional issues of common concern, as well as strengthening parliamentary cooperation.
In November 1996, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien arrived in Shanghai on a working visit.
In November 1997, Chinese President Jiang Zemin paid a state visit to Canada after the fifth informal meeting between leaders of APEC. This was the first time a Chinese president visited Canada in 20 years. Jiang respectively met with Canadian Governor-General Romeo Leblanc, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons, exchanging views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern and reaching wide consensus. Besides Ottawa, Jiang also visited Calgary and Toronto. He met people from all walks of life and delivered important speeches, introducing China's economic situation and magnificent cross-century blueprint, and reiterating China and Canada can take advantage of each other's strengths on the basis of equality and mutual benefit and further expand areas of cooperation. President Jiang reached consensus with Chretien on establishing a comprehensive cooperative partnership oriented toward the 21st century, and determined a definite direction for the long-term development of Sino-Canadian ties.
In November 1998, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited China and held the 20th annual meeting of Canada-China Trade Council. The two governments signed a statement on the framework of environmental cooperation oriented toward the 21st century and a memorandum of understanding on forestry cooperation. Enterprise representatives of the two countries signed 47 commercial contracts, memos of understanding and letters of intent worth 720 million Canadian dollars.
In April 1999, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visited Canada. The two sides exchanged profound views on the Sino-Canadian relationship and other international and regional issues of common concern and reached a wide consensus. Both premiers attended the signing ceremony of the China-Canada environmental cooperation action plan, the memorandum of understanding on Sino-Canadian cooperation in fighting crime, and the protocol on animal products to be exported from Canada to China. China has always attached great importance to the friendly and cooperative relationship between the two countries. To date, Chinese and Canadian leaders have conducted mutual visits for six years, reflecting the intimacy of the Sino-Canadian relationship and a strong wish to strengthen ties between the two sides. Unprecedented progress has been made in mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of politics, trade and economy, science and technology and culture. The friendly relationship has a bright future.
Scientific and Technological Cooperation and Exchanges
In 1991, the exchanges between China and Canada were further restored in the fields of science and technology and culture and education and between friendly provinces and cities.
In 1995, new developments were seen in educational exchanges and cooperation. The two countries signed an agreement on student exchange and a memorandum of understanding on overall education exchanges. The scholar exchange program continued, with 130 scholars from each country to engage in the study of social sciences in the other country a year. The number of Chinese students in Canada reached 10,000, 40 percent of whom were self-funded.
The cooperation and exchanges in science and technology between the two countries continued strengthening in 1996. The numbers of mutual visit groups increased, covering the fields of music, dance, arts of ethnic groups and films.
The cultural exchanges were extremely fruitful. In February 1997, the winter art festival entitled Way to China was held in Ottawa, the Canadian capital.
In April 1997, the Chinese Minister of Culture Liu Zhongde led a government cultural delegation to visit Canada, the first such visit by a Chinese cultural minister since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
In August 1997, the China Exhibit and Exchange Center and the Canada Fund to Protect Chinese Cultural Relics jointly sponsored the Exhibition of Traditional Chinese Paintings by Famous Painters in the 20th Century, which lasted for eight months and toured several cities in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited the exhibition.